Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge was forced to remove outfielder Michael Saunders from Wednesday’s game against the Houston Astros after Saunders made an incredible catch while crashing into the wall. Saunders left the game in the first inning with an apparent injury that was labeled as a strain to his right shoulder after the 8-3 loss.
Although no official announcement has been made, it is likely that Saunders will be headed towards a stint on the 15-day disabled list. Former Mariners outfielder Mike Carp suffered a similar injury on Opening Day last season, and he did not return to action until early May, so the team will likely need to find a temporary replacement for Saunders.
Jason Bay replaced Saunders in the game and he could fill the role as a temporary replacement. However, GM Jack Zduriencik has some other options in AAA, like veteran Endy Chavez or Eric Thames, two very unexciting options.
The Mariners will miss Saunders offensively as he has done a great job hitting in the leadoff spot against right-handed pitching early into the 2013 season, posting an average of .286 in eight games played. Saunders has yet to show the power that he had in 2012 when he hit 19 home runs, but that was expected to come.
Franklin Gutierrez will now be forced to hit leadoff against all pitchers instead of just against left-handers. Wedge will have to make a tough decision if the oft-injured Gutierrez needs a day off. There is a possibility that the Mariners could put out a starting outfield of Michael Morse, Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez, not the most athletic outfield.
The fact that an injury to Saunders will actually be affective says a lot about how much he has progressed over the last few years. Hopefully the injury is less serious than it was thought to be because the Mariners don’t have very much talent or depth in the outfield behind Saunders.